From the Publisher
“Mike Birbiglia was always a very funny guy who told stories onstage. But in the last two years it's been inspiring to see the stories get bigger and more complicated and emotional as he turned himself into a real storyteller and—with this book—a real author as well. These are deeply relatable, totally engaging stories. They're as moving and amusing as they come.” —Ira Glass, host and producer of “This American Life”
“Mike Birbiglia can write an entertaining yet soulful story in his sleep—that and jump out of motel windows.” —Sarah Vowell, author of The Wordy Shipmates and Assassination Vacation
“First, know that this book is well written and funny. Now, know that I hate cynicism. Hate it. This book is the opposite of cynicism. I love Sleepwalk With Me.” —Jeff Garlin, Co-creator and Co-star of Curb Your Enthusiasm
“Mike Birbiglia is a good friend of mine but I'm still really happy when weird, bad things happen to him because I love hearing the stories.” —Seth Meyers, head writer and host of Weekend Update, Saturday Night Live
“Funny. Very funny. Birbiglia is the child Woody Allen and Bob Newhart never had—please don't try to picture that 'encounter.' Smart and self-aware, with just enough perspective on his quirks and issues that you don't have to feel too sorry for him...as you laugh at and/or with him.” —Bob Odenkirk, creator and star of HBO's Mr. Show with Bob and David
“Mike Birbiglia has always made me laugh and so did this book. No one explains their insanity as sanely or as honestly or is as funny as Mike. If you think you’re crazy, this is the book for you. It’s a good thing the kid is a talented writer and comic or he’d be screwed.” —Lewis Black
“Sleepwalk with Me is so funny, inspired, and jealous-makingly well written, I am beginning to suspect that Mike Birbiglia MAY ACTUALLY HAVE BEEN AWAKE WHILE HE WROTE IT. This changes my whole worldview.” —John Hodgman, author of More Information Than You Require
“Insightful, heartfelt, and comedic—what more could you want from a book? Mike Birbiglia is a unique and wonderful new voice in American theater and letters.” —Jonathan Ames, creator of HBO's "Bored to Death" and author of The Extra Man and Wake Up, Sir!
“Sleepwalk With Me is about the things that keep us all up at night: love, family and growing up. In equal parts hilarious and moving, this book should cement Mike Birbiglia’s status as a national treasure.” —Andy Borowitz, author of Who Moved My Soap: The CEO's Guide to Surviving Prison; The Bernie Madoff Edition
“Mike Birbiglia is a great storyteller, just as funny on the page as on the stage. These comic gems strung together create a hilarious and touching memoir of growing up awkwardly and finding his way in the cruel world of stand-up. An original wit who raises self-deprecation to an art form, and always leaves you thinking and laughing." —Nathan Lane
Popular comedian Birbiglia reminisces about his wacky childhood pipe dreams, sleep disorders and occupational and social failures.
In the Comedy Central regular's first foray into the book business, the author engages in plenty of self-deprecating put-downs, non sequiturs and underdog-loser stories. However, other than some typical bits of social unease during childhood and a late start in dating women, Birbiglia isn't quite the loser he makes himself out to be. His father, a successful doctor, sent him to a posh private Catholic high school, and he eventually gained admission to Georgetown University. Birbiglia takes the reader through his mildly humorous failures as an adolescent break dancer, schoolboy basketball player, womanizer, rapper and science student. He also delivers predictable material on gluttony, bodily functions and sleepwalking, and he milks his parents' inability to cope with the Internet for some reliable parents-are-so-out-of-touch collegiate humor. The most entertaining parts of the book focus on his lean years as a struggling comic in New York, complete with crappy temp jobs, absurd focus-group gigs, a chronically low bank balance and failed early gigs in college lunchrooms. When the author tries to cover more serious matters such as love and relationships, he seems unsure whether to approach these personal issues with ironic distance or to break character and attempt to cast an air of pathos. On the whole, Birbiglia ably caters to a straight-male, frat-boy audience, keeping the humor light, snappy and chock full of references to junk food, cable TV, Internet porn and general lowbrow pop culture.
Average comedian-writes-a-book career padding.This same material is more enjoyable in Birbiglia's stage act.
Read an Excerpt
Don’t Tell Anyone
I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Manhattan. Starbucks is the last public space with chairs. It’s a shower for homeless people. And it’s a place you can write all day. The baristas don’t glare at you. They don’t even look at you. Every once in a while they walk around with free samples of banana-chocolate something. “No thanks. Just the two-dollar coffee”—cheapest rent in New York. Plus, they sell CDs and even Christmas gifts. If this place sold toilet paper, I probably wouldn’t have to shop anywhere else.
Well, the reason I’m writing is that I want to tell you some stories. And they’re true. I always have to point this out because whenever I tell stories, people ask me, “Was that true?”
And I say, “Yeah.”
And they say, “Was it?”
And I don’t know how to respond to that. I guess I could say it louder. “Yeah!”
“It’s probably true. He said it louder.”
Growing up, I was discouraged from telling personal stories. My dad often used the phrase “Don’t tell anyone.” But not about creepy things. I don’t want to lead you down the wrong path. It would be about insignificant things. Like I wouldn’t make the soccer team and my father would say, “Don’t tell anyone.” And I would say, “They’re gonna know when they show up to the games and I’m not on the team and I’m crying.”
One time I built up the courage to ask him about this, which was tough because my dad is a very serious man. He’s a doctor—a neurologist. When he’s home, he spends most of his time in this one armchair reading these thick war novels. My dad goes through war novels like I go through boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
So I built up the courage to ask, “How come you play everything so close to the vest?”
My dad said, “The more people know about you, the more they can use it against you.”
This sent shivers down my spine because it had that kind of open-ended fear to it—like that feeling you get when you’re driving and you see a cop. And you’re not speeding. You don’t have drugs. But you’re just thinking, I hope he doesn’t notice I’m driving.
Once in a while I told personal stories at the dinner table and my father would say, “Hush!” I’ll give you an example. In grade school, I was a terrible reader. We used to do these things at school called Student Reading Assignments, and the teacher would post on the wall a list of how many everyone had done—which is a great way to squash a child’s self-esteem. I remember there was this girl in my class named Jamie Burson
who finished 146 of these things before I finished 2. And I distinctly remember thinking, I might be retarded. And then I looked at the wall and thought, Oh yeah, I am.
So one night, I sat at the dinner table and said to my dad, “I think I might be retarded.” And he said, “Hush!” Which is one way to address a problem—just keep it under wraps. That’s what my father would say whenever anyone told uncomfortable stories. So I developed this habit of telling uncomfortable stories.
So here goes . . .